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EL Paso small businesses try to survive coronavirus

EL PASO, Texas -- With the recent Coronavirus pandemic infecting the economy with uncertainty and instability, at least one local business developer has found what he hopes will be a remedy to help small businesses who lease from him.

Bob Ayoub with MIMCO tells ABC 7 that they are working with clients on a case-by-case basis, one tenant at a time. Adding that they are getting creative with their deals in their efforts to avoid an economic crisis, Mimco reported in September that it owns 320 properties and leases space to about 1,500 tenants – both local and national businesses.

The pandemic has driven a large part of the service industry into a forced hibernation and El Paso’s new shelter-in-place order has only added to the area’s financial strain. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said there is a “very real risk that families will lose income and businesses of all sizes will suffer as a result” of this pandemic.

Locally, businesses are seeing fewer customers, and as a result, decreased revenues. With small business owners finding it hard to make rent, ABC 7 went asking commercial property owners if they will give businesses any type of break so they can stay afloat.

“Times are tough,” said Jess Jessen, owner of Pack and Shipp Express, located at a west side strip mall owned by MIMCO Properties.

Jessen said his business is staying afloat, but believes the shelter-place order will have a huge impact on his business.

“The amount of people coming in to ship packages, or ship toilet paper, that’s happened, it’s going to be decreased. So if there’s no customers, obviously my income is going to be decreased and my ability to pay the rent is at risk. It’s something that concerns me, yes.”

Jessen hopes that the creativity Ayoub talked about will lessen the pressure during these tough times.

“Given the circumstances, rent abatement, or decrease, or forfeiture for a couple of months, anything, I think would be on the table,” Jessen said.

Tasty Kabob  is located on the same strip mall as Pack and Shipping Express and owner Eshi Hendry says before the virus pandemic, her business was flourishing.

“I guess the rent is coming up, the bills are coming up, so we have to pay. Well, its very hard. I don’t know how to get the money, actually,” said Hendry.

Hendry pays $3,500 dollars a month rent for the restaurant, and an expansion is currently under construction.

But now she said that expansion, which was planned when business was doing well, will have to wait.

Right now, she is relying on take-out food, as ordered by the state, city and county.

“All small businesses are on the same page. We’re all probably struggling. I really don’t know right now, eventually we can come up with a plan, but I don’t know,” said Hendry.

Asked how long she can stay afloat under current conditions, she responded one month.

Coronavirus Video / El Paso / News / Video

Saul Saenz

El Paso native Saul Saenz is a veteran reporter who also hosts ABC-7 Extra.

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